Last year, we saw an old adage ring true: if you don’t define yourself, others will do it for you.
With today’s world growing ever more reliant on technology, we’re constantly reminded that individuals, businesses and consumers are always connected and always vulnerable.
We are, of course, talking about Sony Pictures, the once revered entertainment giant that was the target of a now infamous cyber attack in late 2014.
What started as your all-too-typical information hack escalated into nationwide chaos, with North Korean hackers threatening terrorism in response to the screening of the controversial James Franco/Seth Rogen film, The Interview. The standoff ended with the studio pulling the film, losing $15 million and causing immeasurable damage to its previously sterling reputation.
An Everlasting Scandal
Despite extensive damage control in the weeks to follow, Sony’s fall from grace is still making headlines nearly three months later.
Just last week, Amy Pascal, one of Hollywood’s most powerful movie executives, announced that she would be stepping down as Sony’s C0-Chairman. Publications from Forbes to Vanity Fair have published well-researched pieces on the hack well into 2015. Even a simple Google search will land you right back in the thick of the December 2014 scandal. Unfortunately, it seems that the old saying, “time heals all wounds,” has been confounded by the Internet.
Any one of us could be Sony at the click of a button. The intrinsically viral, permanent and exploitative nature of the Internet can turn something like a cyber hack into an everlasting testament to the values and practices of a brand as a whole; not to mention an everlasting headline.
Protecting Your Business
These scandals are more than just headlines: they’re constant reminders to business owners everywhere of what could happen.
As we move forward in 2015, we’re developing new and innovative answers to the question, “How can we protect and prepare our clients in an ever-evolving digital world?” Here’s what we’ve learned from Sony’s recent misfortune:
- Educate Employees on the Digital Landscape
According to The Washington Post, U.S. businesses experienced approximately 3,000 cyber attacks in 2013 alone. Considering the growing prevalence of social media and the popularity of cloud-based storage solutions, privacy is now simply an anachronism.To protect yourself and your company from inappropriate exposure, it’s crucial to remind your employees that even internal communications could be seen by the public, be they emails, company manuals, corporate litigation or divorce documents of senior executives.Moreover, these sensitive corporate communications are only one click away from being shared with the outside world. With that click comes the potential downfall of the reputation that you and your organization have worked for years to build.Instead of letting a lack of basic digital education put your company at risk, instate company-wide social media guidelines and Internet policies to present a unified fortress to the digital world.
- Establish a Corporate Brand Online
The best way to lower your company’s digital vulnerability and prevent an information hack is to start with a strong corporate reputation. Having this identity defined will allow your company message to translate seamlessly across all forms of media, while also enabling your employees to embody these values as they act as brand ambassadors within their own personal networks.Consider these five building blocks:
- A company-wide mission statement that encapsulates your organization’s purpose
- A company-wide values statement detailing what your organization stands for
- A workplace culture conductive to productivity and optimism
- A strong backlog of case studies and testimonials available both online and in print
- An appropriate design, logo and voice for your brand that echoes your mission and values statements
- Be In Control of your Reputation
If corporate identities are defined by external forces, your brand will face intense scrutiny and potential eradication. It’s imperative that you be proactive in owning your company’s story, from curating daily social media posts to developing on-message marketing and sales materials.Work to devise a reputation management plan before any crisis strikes. That includes:
- Monitoring your brand’s assets, including your website, LinkedIn profile, social media sites, etc.
- Maintaining said assets, being constantly aware of the conversation surrounding your form on various forms of media
- Measuring your digital reputation management campaign through timely data collection and analysis
Lumentus Can Help
As experts in the field of digital reputation management, we understand that implementing these strategies may seem daunting to the everyday business owner.
At Lumentus, we streamline this process for our clients. Using a three-step system, we create a strategic plan unique to your business, incorporating industry expertise, an understanding of your brand values and decades of communications and technology experience.
We then help you to leverage online media to create differentiation and improve perception. Finally, we actively monitor and manage your program for you to achieve optimum results.
This strategy has proven successful over the years, as we’ve effectively managed and repaired the digital reputations of various hedge funds, private equity firms and national online and brick-and-mortar retailers.